There used to be a time where Big Food would rely on lobbyists to do their political bidding. Although that is still a tried-and-true method, the food industry has increasingly hidden behind innocuous-sounding front groups to deliver its misleading messages.
It’s very important to be aware of front groups since, despite their benevolent names and claims to be “science-based”, they are nothing more than public relations extensions. If you ever come cross these organizations sponsoring a nutrition talk, webinar, or workshop, be aware that they are representing the food industry, rather than the public good.
For information on food and agriculture front groups, be sure to check out this exhaustive report by the Center for Food Safety, titled Best Public Relations Money Can Buy: A Guide to Food Industry Front Groups.
Pay special attention to IFIC, which has very close ties to the Academy, and often sponsors sessions at the annual AND conference. In 2011, IFIC sponsored a session that essentially had a “pesticides are good for you” takeaway message.
The report also details food industry “scientific institutes”, which always make an appearance at the annual AND conference with “educational” sessions that RDs can take for continuing education credits.
These institutes include:
- General Mills’ Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition
- Coca-Cola’s Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness
- ConAgra Foods Science Institute
- Nestlé Nutrition Institute
Become an informed health professional and learn to differentiate real science from public relations.